Don’t look for Justin Upton to move at the non-waiver trade deadline . . . or any other time this season, say the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Close to a 100 percent chance nothing happens,” as team president Derrick Hall phrases it.
Among the clubs thought to be interested in landing the talented outfielder—who hit 31 bombs, landed an .898 OPS, and placed fourth in the National League’s MVP voting in 2011 but broke slow out of the proverbial box this season—were the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, and the Texas Rangers. For his part, Upton has a no-trade clause that lists the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Cleveland Indians as destinations he can block.
Hall insists there’s no urgency to make any deal.
We’re in no hurry to move this guy—nor do we think we need to. Everybody in this organization is open for discussion and conversation, including Justin Upton. If people call, we’re going to listen. We’ve had a lot of people call, and we’ve said, ‘No, thank you’ to all of them. That hasn’t changed.
Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, is saying no, thank you to a possible deal to the Braves right now. Or, to anyone else just yet. The Chicago Cubs righthander—whose scoreless innings streak made him one of the National League’s hottest pitchers for a good period—says he doesn’t want to move, if at all, without first weighing the entire picture:
I want to look everything over first before I make any decisions and I have time to do that. There’s a week before the trading deadline. That’s where I stand on it.
The Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers were two teams known to have had eyes for Dempster, at least for the coming stretch drives.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .
TIGERS GO FISHING—And land Anibal Sanchez (RHP) and Omar Infante (2B) in a swap for Jacob Turner (RHP) and including minor league competitive-balance picks, in a deal said to underline the Tigers’ hankering to win now. For Infante, it’s a homecoming: he played with the Tigers from 2002-07 before the Tigers swapped him as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal. The change of scenery may benefit Sanchez as well, since he has talent but has had trouble staying healthy. The Fish may not come out too badly in this deal, either, if Turner—who’s expected to go to Triple A for a spell—can horse the talent that has him well rated. The Tigers and the Marlins traded draft lottery picks, the Tigers getting a pick between rounds one and two next year and the Marlins getting one between rounds two and three.
This may only be the beginning, from the Marlins’ standpoint—Fox Sports is reporting the Fish may be opening a major fire sale, though with a different twist. They’ve been there before, most notoriously after winning the 1997 World Series, but this time the team seems to be admitting their all-in-on-payroll strategy of last winter didn’t work so well, either, in their case, and are looking now just to reshuffle a badly underachieving team. Infielder Hanley Ramirez is thought to be the Marlin most likely to go next (they tried to deal him to Boston last week; the Dodgers and the Athletics are thought to be interested), while Josh Johnson seems to be on the Los Angeles Angels’ radar. (The Angels had a scout watching Johnson work a magnificent start Monday; the Marlins, for their part, had a scout in Anaheim, possibly watching Peter Bourjos.)
DOWN WITH DUDA—Struggling New York Mets outfielder/first baseman Lucas Duda is going down to the Buffalo (AAA) farm to straighten out his batting stroke and his fielding positioning, after spending the season shuffling around the field and losing something from his swing. The plan is to let Duda play his normal positions at Buffalo (left field, first base) in a bid to fix himself.
BEAT IT!—Duda is going to have company going to Buffalo: relief pitcher Pedro Beato, who once looked like the Mets’ setup man of the future, is going to accompany him. Beato earned the demotion by torching the Mets—after getting a bases-loaded force out—when he relieved Tim Byrdak in the tenth Monday and the Washington Nationals jumped all over him for a bases loaded single (Bryce Harper, who’d cleared the fence early in the game), a three-run double (Ryan Zimmerman), a two-run homer (Michael Morse), and the first six-run extra inning the Mets had surrendered in their entire history. Beato’s implosion ruined a second straight turn of spotless relief prior by the Mets’ troubled bullpen. Meanwhile, closer Frank Francisco was given a cortisone shot in his troublesome knee in a continuing bid to get him back to shore up the pen, and prospect Matt Harvey—whose callup looked in doubt awhile after he was lit up pitching for Buffalo Saturday night—will join the Mets in time to square off against the Diamondbacks come Thursday.
GOODBYE—Says veteran catcher and three-time All-Star Jason Kendall, calling it a career just a week after he signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals organisation. Once thought to be a formidable catcher, Kendall was weakened by injuries over the years and missed the last month of 2010 and all of last season with shoulder surgery. Kendall spent his career with the Royals (2010), the Milwaukee Brewers (2008-09), the Cubs (2007), the Oakland Athletics (2005-07), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1996-2004), where he enjoyed his prime and made his three All-Star teams. Kendall retires as a fair-hitting catcher with a solid (.366) lifetime on-base percentage and difficulty striking out (he averaged 53 punchouts per 162 games), 38.3 wins above a replacement player (WAR), though he was about an average defencive catcher.
Believe it or not, Kendall registers a 108 on the Hall of Fame batting monitor devised by Bill James (the average Hall of Famer registers 100) and 38 percent of the Jamesian Hall of Fame batting standards. It won’t quite get him into Cooperstown, of course, but I bet you were surprised to remember he was as good as he was for most of his fifteen major league seasons.
At least one Kansas City teammate thinks Kendall was Hall of Fame caliber where it really mattered. Tweeted Billy Butler: [Kendall] was old school and played the game right & all while being a great dad.
OOPS!—One of the pieces the Red Sox took from the White Sox in their desperation to rid themselves of Kevin Youkilis has moved on. The Olde Towne Team sent Brent Lillibridge (who’s played every position on the field except pitcher or catcher, incidentally) to the Cleveland Indians for minor league pitcher Jose de la Torre. The Red Sox may yet get the better end of this deal: de la Torre was 8-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 34 games between AA and AAA before the deal.